“Dying message?” Zu An frowned.
Vice Magistrate Pang Chun elaborated more on the matter, “The deceased, Yang Wei, wrote down a ‘Zu’ word before he passed away. In view of the conflict you had with him two days ago in the academy, as well as the fact that there’s no one else who goes by the surname ‘Zu’ in the entire Brightmoon City, we’re left with no choice but to deduce that the person he’s referring to in his dying message is you.”
Even Chu Zhongtian found himself unable to remain calm upon hearing about the dying message, but Zu An forced himself to remain composed. He knew that it was exactly at times like this that he shouldn’t panic. He had seen far too many dramas where the plaintiff just kept crying ‘I’m being framed’ and ‘I’m innocent’ to know that it was futile to do so.
He took some time to ponder over the matter before saying, “There should be a motive behind murder. I have no reason to kill Yang Wei.”
“No reason? You had a conflict with Yang Wei in the academy, and there are several hundred people who can bear testimony to that! You harbored hatred in your heart, so you assassinated my husband for that. You’re a vile man through and through!” Yang Wei’s wife roared at Zu An with a face warped with anger.
“Indeed, I did have a conflict with Yang Wei, but it was just a squabble regarding arithmetic, not to mention, I won the bet. Principal Jiang even appointed me as the stand-in arithmetic teacher, replacing him. On the other hand, Yang Wei was thoroughly disgraced in public and fired from the academy. In other words, it was a complete victory for me. Is there a reason for me to make a move on an utter loser? It’s far more likely for Yang Wei to make an attempt on my life than the converse,” replied Zu An.
Xie Yi and Pang Chun looked at one another and nodded in agreement. Indeed, the killing motive made no sense here.
Chu Zhongtian also turned to look at Zu An in astonishment.
All along, he thought of his son-in-law as someone with a reckless personality who spouted anything that came to his mind. To be honest, his impression of Zu An didn’t change by too much despite the latter’s outstanding performance on the dueling ring. After all, the latter was only at the third rank in terms of cultivation, which the Chu clan had no lack of.
However, Zu An’s ability to analyze the root of the problem here truly impressed him. He realized that he and his wife might have had a wrong impression of Zu An all this while.
It was at this moment that Mei Chaofeng, who was still watching the show quietly a moment ago, stepped forward and said, “That’s hard to say. We have seen how vindictive Zu An is yesterday on the dueling ring. Yuan Wenji had only offended him, but he sliced away the other party’s arm and crippled his ki core. It was in line with Zu An’s character to thoroughly exact vengeance on Lord Yang after the conflict they had with one another.”
Since it wasn’t convenient for Shi Kun to participate in the trial, Mei Chaofeng had no choice but to intervene.
Upon hearing his words, Yang Wei’s wife seemed to have found a pillar of support and immediately hopped on it, “Right, right! That must be the case! Milords, please redress my grievances! My husband died a tragic death.”
The complicated situation left Xie Yi and Pang Chun frowning, not knowing how they should handle it.
Sang Hong also joined in as well, “Zu An, how do you explain the dying message Lord Yang left behind then?”
“Then how can you be certain that it’s Lord Yang who left that word behind? Just think about it. If I’m the murderer, do you think that I’d allow my victim to write my name out?” replied Zu An.
Sang Hong simply kept quiet with a smile. It was beneath him to join the debate directly. He was just pointing the crux of the matter out for Xie Yi and Pang Chun to handle the case on his behalf.
As expected, Pang Chun immediately spoke up, “Lord Yang’s hands were hiding the word when we found him. It’s only normal for the murderer to have not noticed it.”
Zu An burst into laughter. “If I may ask, which murderer would be so careless? It’s one thing for him to leave his victim with a dying breath, but he actually didn’t notice his victim attempting to leave a dying message too? Does that even make sense to you?”
The spectating crowd began discussing the case through whispers too. The arguments from both sides made sense to them.
“Silence!” Xie Yi smacked the wooden brick on the table. “Zu An, what you said made sense, but all of the evidence is pointing to you at the moment. Without a doubt, you’re the prime suspect. If we’re unable to find any other evidence, I’m afraid that it would be hard to vindicate you.”
“If I may ask, when did Lord Yang die?” asked Chu Zhongtian.
“Brightmoon Duke, based on the autopsy record, he should have died yesterday night, around the zi hour to the chou hour.”
(11PM to 3AM)
“Then there’s no way it could be Ah Zu. He was resting in his estate yesterday night. Also, due to several incidents in the past, I have allocated several guards to protect him around the clock, so there’s no way he could slip past my notice.”
“I see.” Xie Yi heaved a sigh of relief. If Zu An had an alibi, it would make things far more straightforward. However, just as Xie Yi was about to make his judgment, a voice suddenly sounded in the court.
“If I recall correctly, the testimony provided by kin of the plaintiff can only be used as reference and not absolute evidence, right?” said Shi Kun.
Naturally, they had considered this too while they were concocting this scheme.
Those words left Xie Yi frowning. There was indeed such a rule as there was a good chance that family members would try to cover for one another.
Chu Zhongtian turned to Shi Kun and uttered coldly, “Are you claiming that I’m spouting falsehoods here?”
“Brightmoon Duke, please pardon me. I’m not doubting your character here, but given how many people there are in the Chu Estate, there’s no way you could keep track of everyone’s whereabouts. Furthermore, Zu An has displayed a formidable movement skill that could overwhelm even a fifth rank cultivator on the dueling ring yesterday. Given so, it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to circumvent the guards in the estate if he truly intended to sneak out.”
“…” Chu Zhongtian.
Shi Kun’s arguments were perfectly logical, leaving Chu Zhongtian with no room for argument. The crowd also immediately eyed Zu An in suspicion as well.
Zu An turned around to look at Shi Kun and said, “Young master Shi, you’re well-prepared. It almost looks like you were the one who prepared this scheme to frame me.”
“I am just a concerned civilian. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with me stating my opinion, right?” replied Shi Kun with a smile.
Vice Magistrate Pang Chun finally spoke up, “Zu An, what else do you have to say for yourself?”
Zu An pondered for a moment before speaking up, “I’d like to visit the murder scene.”
May all of the great detectives of the world bless me here. Please don’t let those detective dramas I’ve watched in my previous life, be it Justice Bao, Di Renjie, Sherlock Holmes, or Detective Conan, be in vain. Otherwise, I might really get done in here.
“There’s no need for you to head over to the scene personally,” replied Xie Yi.
He gestured to his subordinate, and soon, someone brought an artifact that resembled a mirror over. Xie Yi infused his ki into it, and an image appeared on the surface of the mirror.
It was the scene of Yang Wei’s dead body!
Zu An was quite amazed by the technologies this world had to offer. They actually created the equivalent of a camera in their own way, allowing them to store and display images. It would appear that the runemasters in this world were far more formidable than he had thought.
Zu An carefully examined the murder scene, and soon, a smile surfaced on his lips. “Well, well! It looks like justice does exist in this world after all!”
“What do you mean?” asked Xie Yi in confusion.
The others on the court were equally bewildered as well. Even Shi Kun began frowning, wondering if they had accidentally messed up here.
Zu An pointed to the blood words in the image and explained, “The dying message left behind by Yang Wei was written with his right hand, but Lord Yang is left-handed. The true murderer seems to be unaware of that, resulting in this careless mistake.”
“Left-handed?” Pang Chun was taken aback. “I’ve known Lord Yang for many years, but I’ve never known him to be left-handed.”
“Previously, when I was attending Yang Wei’s arithmetic class, he started out writing with his right hand. However, when the two of us started competing with one another, he subconsciously switched to his left hand in a moment of nervousness. From this, it should be clear that his master hand is his left hand. However, I reckon that most people are oblivious to that, which is also why the true murderer erred here.
“When a man tries to leave behind an important message in his dying breath, there was no way he would deliberately go through the trouble of using his non-master hand. Yet, Yang Wei’s dying message was written with his right hand instead. This should prove that the dying message is fabricated by the true murderer.”
Xie Yi frowned at those words. He turned to Yang Wei’s wife and asked, “Is Lord Yang left-handed?”
The middle-aged woman was bemuddled by the current turn of events, but she still nodded anyway. “My husband is indeed left-handed. It’s out of fear that he would be mocked that he tries to use his right hand in public, but from time to time, he would still subconsciously resort to his left hand.”
A huge ruckus broke out as soon as those words were spoken. Even Shi Kun was shaken too. How could he have known that they would have made such a mistake?
Realizing that things were turning awry, Mei Chaofeng’s face warped in shock, and he hurriedly chirped in, “Zu An might be using this fact to take us for a ride! He intentionally faked the dying message in such a way so that he could absolve himself of blame!”
Faced with those words, Zu An shook his head and looked at Mei Chaofeng in ridicule, “You must have not brought your brain out with you today. Do I look like I’m mentally ill as to leave my name on the crime scene and turn myself into the prime suspect?”
Xie Yi nodded in agreement. “What Zu An says makes sense. With the doubts surrounding the dying message, there isn’t any concrete evidence to prove that he’s the murderer anymore. Lord Pang, I’ll be counting on you to reinvestigate this matter and root out the murderer.”
Pang Chun bowed slightly and said, “Yes, I’ll do my best to get to the bottom of this case.”
With the case regarding Yang Wei’s death coming to a standstill, the guards escorted Yang Wei’s family members out of the court. Zu An turned around to look at Shi Kun and said, “There were quite a few people in the academy who witnessed my competition with Yang Wei, so most of them should be aware of the fact that he’s left-handed. It’s unlikely that they would make such a careless mistake. If I remember correctly, young master Shi has only joined our academy a day after the duel, right? Ah, that would explain why the true murderer is unaware of the fact that Lord Yang is left-handed!”
Shi Kun refuted those words right away in agitation, “Zu An, don’t you dare slander me! How could I possibly be the culprit behind Lord Yang’s death?!”
Zu An burst out laughing, “Oh? But I didn’t say that you were the murderer. Why are you getting so agitated?”
“…” Shi Kun.
You have successfully trolled Shi Kun for +523 Rage!
That bastard! I nearly fell into his trap in a moment of carelessness!
Zu An’s words might be unfounded, but it did make sense as well. The crowd began pointing fingers at Shi Kun as they speculated about the truth surrounding the case with their vivid imagination.
Seeing this, Mei Chaofeng valiantly stepped forth to alleviate the social pressure heaped on his master, saying, “Even if you aren’t the culprit behind Lord Yang’s death, there’s no way you are unrelated with Plum Blossom Twelve and Thirteen’s deaths!”
Zu An shrugged calmly. “Why don’t you bring out some concrete evidence instead of running your mouth?”
Mei Chaofeng first bowed to Xie Yi and the others before starting on his testimony, “A month ago, someone witnessed you leaving the city together with Plum Blossom Twelve. However, you were the only one who returned to Brightmoon City at the end of the day. Based on the results of our investigation, Plum Blossom Twelve died in the Wolf Valley, and there are eyewitnesses who have seen you handing over ten goubaos to Divine Physician Ji on the very same day. From this, we can deduce that Plum Blossom Twelve has fought hard against the Assrip Wolves to gather a bunch of goubaos, only for you to assault him and steal his loot!”
Zu An rolled his eyes in disdain. “You’ve already said it with your own mouth that it’s a deduction. Evidence! Where’s the evidence!”
“The goubaos are the evidence! Furthermore, there are testimonies from eyewitnesses too. This is the most logical explanation regarding this matter!” said Mei Chaofeng vehemently.
“With the strength I’ve shown on the dueling ring yesterday, I could have just hunted the Assrip Wolves and gathered the goubaos on my own. Why would I need to kill Plum Blossom Twelve for that? Besides, I also have an eyewitness on my side too. Back then, the daughter of Divine Physician Ji, Ji Xiaoxi, was with me. She can testify that I’ve collected all of the goubaos by myself.”
“Then how can you explain the fact that the two of you left the city together, but you were the only one who returned alone?”
Mei Chaofeng was feeling utterly exasperated at the moment. The other murder cases were all forged by them, and they made sure to plant ample evidence beforehand in order to incriminate Zu An. This was the only murder case that they were certain that the murderer was Zu An, so they thought that it would work out easily. Yet, who could have thought that no one would trust him even though he was speaking the truth here?
What’s with this injustice in the world?!
You have successfully trolled Mei Chaofeng for +497 Rage!
“He met someone named Tan Wei along the way and rushed off to chase that man, so we ended up parting ways. Is there anything wrong with that?” replied Zu An with an innocent look on his face.
“Based on what I know, Tan Wei is a traitor of the Plum Blossom Sect. It does make sense for Plum Blossom Thirteen to split up with Ah Zu to chase Tan Wei.” Chu Zhongtian added credibility to Zu An’s words.
Pang Chun also directed a nod toward Xie Yi as well, indicating that he was aware of this matter too. So, Xie Yi slammed the wooden brick on the table and declared, “Alright! There’s insufficient evidence here to prove that Zu An is the murderer here. Next!”
Mei Chaofeng glared at Zu An with gritted teeth. “You might have been able to get by thus far with your glib tongue, but there’s no way you can argue your way out of Plum Blossom Thirteen’s death!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter